American Kestrel

March 9, 2012 in Nearby Landbirds

While parked for a moment on the north side of South Union St. on the west side of the Duck Bridge, I looked through my binoculars towards the clock tower.  My hope was to spot one of the peregrines perched on the north side of the tower. No luck……but, a bird the size of a Robin was perched on the crown of a nearby tree.  The colors were a bit unusual so I took an extra moment and redirected the binoculars.  What a surprise to find an American Kestrel! Walked out onto the bridge for better lighting and better angle for photo.  Shared the photo with local hawk expert, Paul Roberts, and he commented with these words “the kestrel looks like an absolutely gorgeous adult male….. Absolutely gorgeous.”  Agreed!

The Kestrel is the smallest of the falcons in North America.  The male has a rusty brown back and tail with slate blue wings.  The female is slightly larger with a rusty brown back and rusty brown wings. 

The Kestrel is known for hovering in one place while searching for prey.  They use their very sharp eyesight to scan and then capture grasshoppers and crickets as well as small birds and mice.

According to Mass Audubon the population of American Kestrels in Massachusetts has dropped precipitously in the past few decades.  In response, Mass Audubon is launching a nest box program aimed at helping the American Kestrel population recover.  Thanks to this South Union Street sighting, we’ll now keep an eye open for confirmed breeding activity in the general area!